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I Am Not an Astronaut

even though I ate Space Food Sticks, a butterscotch snack

popular in the 1970s wrapped in silver foil and advertised as out of this world. I ate “flying saucers,” beads of candy

rattling inside a domed wafer that tasted like St. Joseph’s host.

I watched Lost in Space and The Jetsons, sure everyone would be driving flying cars by the time I grew up. Barbie’s clear astronaut helmet left room for her hair as she contemplated space in a dreamy, non-scientific way. I learned to play the five eerie notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and was fascinated by the mashed potato

Devils Tower sculpture Richard Dreyfus made. I prayed for the dog Laika who died while orbiting. It took me a while

to laugh at the sick jokes about Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger explosion as I was myself a teacher by then.

Now billionaires hope to move to another planet once they’ve finished trashing this one. I will happily stay behind hoping we are still able to grow something in our planet’s soil. I haven’t looked for a savior in a while or wondered what it would be like to float upside down or ponder where my pee would go without gravity. I’ve come a long way since I thought I saw a UFO one starless night. I was miserable, in high school, wildly waving to the sky, yelling “Take me!”


DENISE DUHAMEL's most recent book of poetry is Second Story (Pittsburgh, 2021). Her other titles include Scald; Blowout; Ka-Ching!; Two and Two; Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems; The Star-Spangled Banner; and Kinky.She and Maureen Seaton have co-authored four collections, the most recent of which is CAPRICE (Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New) (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). And she and Julie Marie Wade co-authored The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose (Noctuary Press, 2019). She is a Distinguished University Professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.


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